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Old September 27 2009, 10:13 PM   #1
Lazarus
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'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

Broken down to the bare bones, the Kobayashi Maru scenario leaves the student two possible courses of action:

1: Decide to remain within Federation space and allow the civilian ship & passengers to be destroyed by hostile forces. Entering the Neutral Zone will almost certainly trigger an interstellar war between the Federation and a hostile race.

2: Decide to enter the Neural Zone, drive off the hostile vessels and save the civilian ship and passengers. As the Neutral Zone has been breached, an insterstellar war will result.


Bearing in mind that a war with the enemy race will lead to a loss of life hundreds of times greater than the number of, albeit unfortunate, souls on the civilian ship, can rescuing them REALLY be justified?

The Kobayashi Maru scenario is described as 'no win' - whichever course of action the student decides will result in loss of life. While this is true, surely saving the lives of the people on the civilian vessel but triggering a conflict that will cost the lives of hundreds of thousands can not be placed as an equal outcome as preventing said war at the cost of maybe a hundred lives?

I put it to you can the 'correct' course of action to take when presented with the Kobayashi Maru scenario is, as unpalatable as it may be to a Starfleet officer, to let the civilian ship be destroyed.

Opinions?
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Old September 27 2009, 10:19 PM   #2
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

Perhaps, but any cadet that chooses that option may be judged by Starfleet as excessively cautious, unwilling to take risks, and therefore unsuitable for command.
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Old September 27 2009, 10:23 PM   #3
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
Perhaps, but any cadet that chooses that option may be judged by Starfleet as excessively cautious, unwilling to take risks, and therefore unsuitable for command.
Actually it's probably impossible to judge out of context of whatever other psychological studies a candidate undergoes - it probably all depends on how their handling of the test fits with their persona so far.

Either way, it certainly doesn't work as a test of how one handles certain death, as the cadet *knows* he's in a simulator, so it's likely to be worthless in that element and actually used to evaluate other factors that the cadet isn't consciously expecting to be evaluated.
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Old September 27 2009, 10:24 PM   #4
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

It depends on the terms of the treaty. For one thing, the simulation as described involves entry into the Neutral Zone and encountering KLINGON warships; as far as I know, Federation and Klingon space was never divided by a neutral zone, so you have to wonder if the treaty being violated is the Organian Treaty or the Romulan Treaty with Klingon involvement as a Romulan ally. OTOH, it's entirely possible that the Klingons are in the neutral zone conducting a war with the Romulans and the decision to enter the zone is at risk of being caught in the crossfire (since Klingons tend to shoot first and ask questions later).

On still the third hand, it's equally possible that entry into the neutral zone is permissible under emergency circumstances, and since it doesn't seem to apply to civilian vessels (or else what would the Kobyashi Maru be doing in the neutral zone in the first place?) a rescue mission would probably be covered under the treaty.

The reason it's a no-win situation is because Starfleet officers HAVE to render aid to civilians in distress, no matter what the risk. You won't win either way: either the Kobyashi Maru is destroyed by the Klingons, or YOU are destroyed by the Klingons. It's a test to see how you react to total and thorough defeat.


And while I know it's off the subject, I'm pretty sure this is what was going on during Balok's test of the Enterprise. Obviously he wouldn't have destroyed the Enterprise whether Kirk had bluffed him or not; probably he was just watching the crew to see how they would react to the approach of unavoidable death (hence the reason he gave them a few minutes warning). You can learn alot about a person by the lengths they will take to meet their goals, especially if their goal is to survive.
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Old September 27 2009, 10:25 PM   #5
Lazarus
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
Perhaps, but any cadet that chooses that option may be judged by Starfleet as excessively cautious, unwilling to take risks, and therefore unsuitable for command.
But is inaction in order to prevent drawing the entire Federation into a massive interstellar war excessively cautious?

By ordering his ship across the border to aid the civilian ship the cadet will single-handedly trigger an immensely costly conflict, and is committing Starfleet and 150 Federation members to a war with a formidable alien power.

Is that unwilling to take risks? Or simply looking at the bigger picture?
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Old September 27 2009, 10:28 PM   #6
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

I remember a while ago that there was a novelization where it included that a Cadet chose not to go after the Kobayashi Maru and was told he had automatically failed the exam. I remember that in the video game Starfleet Academy something similar would happen if you decided not to try to rescue them that the simulation would end.
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Old September 27 2009, 10:33 PM   #7
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
The reason it's a no-win situation is because Starfleet officers HAVE to render aid to civilians in distress, no matter what the risk. You won't win either way: either the Kobyashi Maru is destroyed by the Klingons, or YOU are destroyed by the Klingons. It's a test to see how you react to total and thorough defeat.
All good points, but do they HAVE TO render aid in circumstances such as this? If this is true then the scenario is more of an exercise in futility than it already appears, since the course of action is preordained by regulations - if the cadet MUST try and save the civlian ship, there is in fact no choice presented to him.

Personally I'm dubious as to whether Stafleet officers MUST render aid in a situation like this, to cross the border, very likely trigger a war and probably be have their own ship destroyed and crew die in a futile enterprise (pardon the pun) can not surely be the course of action required by Starfleet regulations? Surely rendering aid at the cost of your own ship and entire crews' lives is not the correct decision to make?
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Old September 27 2009, 10:42 PM   #8
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
It depends on the terms of the treaty. For one thing, the simulation as described involves entry into the Neutral Zone and encountering KLINGON warships; as far as I know, Federation and Klingon space was never divided by a neutral zone,
Indeed, but in context of the scenario it quite clearly refers to an otherwise unheard-of Klingon Neutral Zone.
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Old September 27 2009, 11:45 PM   #9
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

If I was a cadet faced with the Kobayashi Maru test, I think that I would, at that time, decide that the correct outcome involved quitting Starfleet and escaping to a remote lightly inhabited planet via the next passing Frenegi smuggling vessel.

The bureaucracy of the Federation would be hard for me to take - just like real world bureaucracy of many varieties - and the Kobayashi Maru, right or wrong, would be seen by me as the tipping point when enough is enough.
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Old September 27 2009, 11:52 PM   #10
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

Lazarus wrote: View Post
newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
The reason it's a no-win situation is because Starfleet officers HAVE to render aid to civilians in distress, no matter what the risk. You won't win either way: either the Kobyashi Maru is destroyed by the Klingons, or YOU are destroyed by the Klingons. It's a test to see how you react to total and thorough defeat.
All good points, but do they HAVE TO render aid in circumstances such as this? If this is true then the scenario is more of an exercise in futility than it already appears, since the course of action is preordained by regulations - if the cadet MUST try and save the civlian ship, there is in fact no choice presented to him.
But wouldn't it be too easy to simply leave the ship there? Especially since it is only a simulation? You can't test how a cadet faces death if they never actually DO face it.

Perhaps Starfleet allows for cadets to abandon/destroy the ship, but requires any cadet who does so to give a good reason.
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Old September 27 2009, 11:54 PM   #11
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

Lazarus wrote: View Post
Broken down to the bare bones, the Kobayashi Maru scenario leaves the student two possible courses of action:

1: Decide to remain within Federation space and allow the civilian ship & passengers to be destroyed by hostile forces. Entering the Neutral Zone will almost certainly trigger an interstellar war between the Federation and a hostile race.

2: Decide to enter the Neural Zone, drive off the hostile vessels and save the civilian ship and passengers. As the Neutral Zone has been breached, an insterstellar war will result.
Actually, I don't think that interstellar war is the inevitable outcome. The Neutral Zone, be it Romulan or Klingon, has been breached numerous times throughout history without that being the result.

I think the point of the exercise is not, "Go in or don't go in." The point of the exercise is, you go in, you do your best, but you still will not be able to rescue the crew of the Kobayashi Maru or save your ship.

That's what makes it a no-win scenario -- you're going to die no matter what you do. It's a test of the individual's ability to continue doing his or her duty in the face of imminent, inevitable death, not of the individual's ability to judge whether or not it's worth it to start a war.

Incidentally, that's also what ties the test in with the larger theme of Star Trek II. ST2 is all about death and mortality -- about Kirk fearing that he is growing old, about Khan refusing to live his life and so finding himself trapped in a state of emotional death, and about Spock sacrificing his life to save the Enterprise. It's all about death -- our deaths, not others'.

ETA:

Lazarus wrote: View Post
Personally I'm dubious as to whether Stafleet officers MUST render aid in a situation like this, to cross the border, very likely trigger a war and probably be have their own ship destroyed and crew die in a futile enterprise (pardon the pun) can not surely be the course of action required by Starfleet regulations? Surely rendering aid at the cost of your own ship and entire crews' lives is not the correct decision to make?
Surely it is! Starfleet is an agency of the state, and exists to serve its citizens. It is the Federation's military. Its job is to defend civilian life from hostile foreign powers. If its members are unwilling to sacrifice their lives to defend Federation civilians, then Starfleet does not deserve to exist.

Saying that Starfleet vessels are not obligated to be willing to sacrifice themselves to save Federation civilian lives is like saying that U.S. Naval vessels don't have a similar obligation. Well, if they don't, what the hell is the point of having a navy?
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Old September 28 2009, 12:12 AM   #12
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

Sci wrote: View Post
Lazarus wrote: View Post
Broken down to the bare bones, the Kobayashi Maru scenario leaves the student two possible courses of action:

1: Decide to remain within Federation space and allow the civilian ship & passengers to be destroyed by hostile forces. Entering the Neutral Zone will almost certainly trigger an interstellar war between the Federation and a hostile race.

2: Decide to enter the Neural Zone, drive off the hostile vessels and save the civilian ship and passengers. As the Neutral Zone has been breached, an insterstellar war will result.
Actually, I don't think that interstellar war is the inevitable outcome. The Neutral Zone, be it Romulan or Klingon, has been breached numerous times throughout history without that being the result.

I think the point of the exercise is not, "Go in or don't go in." The point of the exercise is, you go in, you do your best, but you still will not be able to rescue the crew of the Kobayashi Maru or save your ship.

That's what makes it a no-win scenario -- you're going to die no matter what you do. It's a test of the individual's ability to continue doing his or her duty in the face of imminent, inevitable death, not of the individual's ability to judge whether or not it's worth it to start a war.

Incidentally, that's also what ties the test in with the larger theme of Star Trek II. ST2 is all about death and mortality -- about Kirk fearing that he is growing old, about Khan refusing to live his life and so finding himself trapped in a state of emotional death, and about Spock sacrificing his life to save the Enterprise. It's all about death -- our deaths, not others'.

ETA:

Lazarus wrote: View Post
Personally I'm dubious as to whether Stafleet officers MUST render aid in a situation like this, to cross the border, very likely trigger a war and probably be have their own ship destroyed and crew die in a futile enterprise (pardon the pun) can not surely be the course of action required by Starfleet regulations? Surely rendering aid at the cost of your own ship and entire crews' lives is not the correct decision to make?
Surely it is! Starfleet is an agency of the state, and exists to serve its citizens. It is the Federation's military. Its job is to defend civilian life from hostile foreign powers. If its members are unwilling to sacrifice their lives to defend Federation civilians, then Starfleet does not deserve to exist.

Saying that Starfleet vessels are not obligated to be willing to sacrifice themselves to save Federation civilian lives is like saying that U.S. Naval vessels don't have a similar obligation. Well, if they don't, what the hell is the point of having a navy?
I completely agree with you, on all of your points. That's exactly what I saw the Kobayashi Maru as.
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Old September 28 2009, 01:59 AM   #13
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

nx1701g wrote: View Post
I remember a while ago that there was a novelization where it included that a Cadet chose not to go after the Kobayashi Maru and was told he had automatically failed the exam. I remember that in the video game Starfleet Academy something similar would happen if you decided not to try to rescue them that the simulation would end.
See that bothers me - inaction is at times as valid a decision as action. Especially if your prospective captain is a Vulcan, wouldn't the logical conclusion, knowing that by entering the Neutral Zone, mercy mission or no, war is a very likely outcome, be to allow the few to die for the good of the many? I mean, let's say that later incarnations of the Kobayashi Maru test involve Federation foes like the Dominion or the Borg. They certainly don't believe in mercy missions - if the starship goes in, they get destroyed by the enemy and so does the civilian ship. And races like those two don't particularly need much in the way of motivation to begin to go after Federation vessels. So I resent the idea that by choosing to leave them is grounds for automatic failure.

Now, granted, I doubt my conscience would let me do such a thing in reality, but still...
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Old September 28 2009, 02:12 AM   #14
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

But as I said, the entire point of the test is lost if the cadet never encounters a life or death situation. If they choose to leave, they will never be in danger, so what's being tested?
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Old September 28 2009, 04:28 AM   #15
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Re: 'CORRECT' OUTCOME OF KOBAYASHI MARU?

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
But as I said, the entire point of the test is lost if the cadet never encounters a life or death situation. If they choose to leave, they will never be in danger, so what's being tested?
How long it would take for the crew to mutiny to go to help the civilians?

Honestly, though, I understand that train of thought. However, I maintain that were the situation real, it's just as possible that the captain would be right to pull back from rescuing them (perhaps not morally, but statistically). That's why I see it as a valid option.

Humans will (mostly) go and rescue the people. However, let's say a member of Non-Human Race A over here, who is of a stock where the greater whole's needs outweigh those of a few individuals, takes the test and looks at the risk and sees the options as 'let a handful of people die' versus 'send a fully operational starship, filled with hundreds of Starfleet's best and brightest and military secrets, into a disputed zone where the ship could be captured by an enemy trap' and decides that the loss of the starship would be a greater tragedy than a civilian cargo vessel? Is member of Non-Human Race A in the wrong? Not from his cultural perspective. Starfleet seems to pride itself in its acceptance of all sorts - are they going to tell the members of Non-Human Race A that they are, as a culture, unfit to captain a Starfleet vessel because of their beliefs?
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